Fresh air, warm sunlight, green grass, and the beauty of nature. In other words – the great outdoors! I Absolutely adore being in wide open spaces, enjoying the beauty of nature and discovering untouched gems that make you catch your breath in wonder. And I hate being trapped indoors or in a city surrounded by noisy cars, cloying exhaust fumes and tons of concrete. My friends and family don’t really understand my passion for everything wild and untamed, but I recently convinced my best friend to join me for her first ever hike. We had to prepare some equipment but, of course, while staying within a given budget. I had the pleasure to introduce her to some of the basic tips when it comes to hiking gear:
When it comes to rain gear, opting for the fanciest option isn’t really advisable. The most expensive items aren’t going to get you anything more effective than an equivalent product that costs a tenth of the price.
This one is mostly a personal choice and is dependent on how much hiking you plan to do, how much you weigh and if you’re going to adapt your trekking poles as tent poles. I would suggest getting trekking poles with a strap, it makes things a little easier when you’re navigating rocks, rivers and places where they’re not needed. Twist adjustment poles seem to wear out faster so opt for ones with flick locks. And choose poles that have a decent warranty – you will be glad if you ever need it!
When it comes to camping stoves the best options are normally the homemade variety. Seriously – if it’s something homemade you won’t mind so much when it gets battered or breaks while on a hike. Plus, the expensive stoves don’t really give you anything that homemade ones can’t. If you have your heart set on the real deal then browse second hand stores and garage sales. There are also a number of great couponing websites such as Discountrue or Coupons.com which are sure to help you save some money. You might just be lucky and get a $100 stove for less than $25!
Your nighttime shelter is pretty much dependent on where you’re headed and how much protection from the elements you want while sleeping. There was a time when a waterproof tarp slung over a rope between two poles was the cheapest option but these days you can get one man pop up tents that are light, durable and super affordable. Plus, they’re pop up so there’s no fighting with getting them pitched in the middle of a storm, or worrying about losing or forgetting one of your poles at home! Don’t rule out the waterproof tarp and rope idea, though, because on a warm summer night there is nothing quite like being under the stars with almost nothing between you and them.
Be flexible and honest about what you REALLY need
You don’t have to buy all new gear, nor do you have to own every hiking and outdoor thinga-magik you hear about or see. When you’re overnighting then some kind of shelter and a sleeping bag are a must, but if you’re just doing day hikes then don’t bother until you need them. Second hand items are just as effective as new ones so don’t be shy about searching for hand me downs. Use what you have wherever possible. An old energy drink bottle works just as well as a fancy water bottle, the crockery from your kitchen will work just as well outdoors, and a cheap ‘lilo’ pool lounger makes a very effective mattress.
To all you budding hikers out there, happy trails and I hope I’ll see you out there one day soon!